AUSTIN — Attractive as ornamentals and functional in some applications, invasive aquatic plants can also pose a threat to the state’s natural resources. To provide appropriate opportunities for use of certain non-native aquatic plants and algae without risking impacts to the state’s natural resources, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is looking for help compiling a prospective list of exotics that could be allowed for sale in Texas.
The department has been directed by the Texas Legislature to finalize an approved list of exotic aquatic plant species by the end of the year. Currently, TPWD maintains a prohibited list to restrict importation and possession of aquatic exotic plants in Texas. This requires continued monitoring and revision of the list as new species are introduced.
In addition to gathering input on commercially traded species from stakeholders who buy and sell exotic aquatic plants, TPWD is looking to get input from the public during a series of open meetings in March (see schedule below). A draft listing of exotic aquatic plants under consideration for sale in Texas can be found at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/proposals/exotic_aquatic_plants/.
TPWD plans to conduct a risk analysis of prospective plant species to determine which ones might be included in an acceptable list. By creating an approved plant list, the department and plant enthusiasts can work collectively to protect the state’s natural resources by allowing only those species that pose minimal or no threat to the environment.
“We believe this approach is the most efficient way to prevent the introduction of invasive exotics into the ecosystem,” said Dr. Earl Chilton, TPWD’s exotic vegetation program manager. “Most folks want to do what’s right for the environment and knowing which exotic aquatics are acceptable will hopefully eliminate inadvertent introduction.”
The introduction of harmful exotic (invasive) plant species into Texas and throughout the U.S. has been on the increase in recent years. Collectively, these species can and do have tremendous negative impacts on our environment and our economy. Costs associated with control and eradication of invasive species (terrestrial and aquatic) in the United States has been estimated at more than $100 billion annually.